Common People: An Anthology of Working Class Writers

Common People: An Anthology of Working Class Writers

Common People is a collection of essays, poems and pieces of personal memoir, bringing together sixteen well-known writers from working class backgrounds with an equal number of brand new as-yet-unpublished writers from all over the UK.Too often, working class writers find that the hurdles they have to leap are higher and harder to cross than for writers from more affluent...

DownloadRead Online
Title:Common People: An Anthology of Working Class Writers
Author:Kit de Waal
Rating:
Edition Language:English

Common People: An Anthology of Working Class Writers Reviews

  • Bookish Chat

    I have read and thoroughly enjoyed Kit De Waal's novels, My Name Is Leon and The Trick To Time, so when I saw that she was responsible for putting together a collection of essays, poems and memoir centred around the subject of being working class, I was VERY interested.

    When Unbound offered me an advanced review copy I jumped at the chance to read and review it.  The front cover shows an illustrious list of 33 working class writers.  Names which jumped straight out at me were Lisa Blower, Cathy R

    I have read and thoroughly enjoyed Kit De Waal's novels, My Name Is Leon and The Trick To Time, so when I saw that she was responsible for putting together a collection of essays, poems and memoir centred around the subject of being working class, I was VERY interested.

    When Unbound offered me an advanced review copy I jumped at the chance to read and review it.  The front cover shows an illustrious list of 33 working class writers.  Names which jumped straight out at me were Lisa Blower, Cathy Rentzenbrink, Damian Barr and Louise Doughty.  I recently read and reviewed Lisa Blower's short story collection It's Gone Dark Over Bill's Mother's and absolutely loved it, so I was particularly eager to get to her piece (which I adored by the way!).

    This collection kicks off with a poem called Tough by Tony Walsh (aka Longfellow) and this perfectly captured the tone of the book and set the scene for what was to follow impeccably.  I remember sitting next to my book trolley and just flicking through the book, not actually ready to sit down and read it yet but devouring that poem and re-reading it a couple of times to myself and thinking, in fact knowing, I was going to love the book.

    What followed for me was an almost perfect reading experience which struck so many chords within me and sparked myriad memories of my childhood that I felt like I'd been transported back in time.  You see, I live in the North of England, had a working class upbringing and still consider myself to be working class. Many of the essays/memoir were centred around childhood and various aspects of working class life.

    I can honestly say that bar one essay, (which I think went a little over my head!), each and every piece resonated in some way with me.  I found comparisons to draw with my own childhood or adult life, and if not, there was nuggets of emotion that chimed within me anyway.

    I obviously can't talk about every single story much as I'd love to (I know they aren't 'stories' as such but I shall refer to them that way). But I will just mention a few to give you a feel for some of the subjects touched upon.

    Don't Mention Class by Katy Massey is the story of Katy's childhood, growing up in Leeds as a half-caste child of a single parent who makes her living in the sex industry. Katy credits her education in marriage, sex, relationships and life in general to the various women who passed through her mothers brothel Aristotles. The idea that most people now in her adult life consider her to have 'overcome' her working class northern upbringing is fascinating given that Katy herself doesn't see it as 'overcoming' at all, rather her childhood 'constructed' her. I love this sentiment.

    Then we have Little Boxes by Stuart Maconie which details his childhood growing up on a purpose built housing estate. Warrens of alleyways, cut-throughs and entries linking blocks of houses together. Estate life with street names designed to give an air of intellect to the area, Keats Avenue, Eliot Drive, Blake Close, Milton Grove. This immediately brought back memories for me, having had grandparents who lived on one of these purpose built estates which they moved to when they were brand new in the early 60's. Also with literary links Shakespeare Road, Stratford Gardens, Shottery Walks. There is a paragraph in this story which struck me as oh so true:

    There is no point telling working class mums that you 'had a nice lunch' or 'will grab something later'. They will not let you sit in the house without eating; food equals love in houses where hugs and kisses are still awkward currency

    Peoples relationships with food was a subject being talked about at work one day and I happened to have Common People in my bag. I read the paragraph above out loud and so many people could identify with it.

    One story which really sticks in my mind is The Funeral And The Wedding by Jodie Russian-Red. The idea that the only two occasions in life where the whole of a family gets together is either a funeral or a wedding. From deciding who's wearing what, debating whether there will be a decent buffet, worrying about who'll be there and whether there'll be any tensions between so and so and you know who. Then of course there's the slightly hungover debrief the next morning, the gossip, the scandal. It is of course entirely true that all extended family come together for these occasions and I've attended many a wedding and a funeral at our local working men's club to identify. Again another piece of writing full of memories for me.

    As I said, I can't possibly talk about all the stories but between life in a high rise flat where most interactions with neighbours begin and end in the lifts, darts teams, nights out at the dog track and life growing up in the Stoke potteries, there is something for everyone here.

    Obviously all the writing styles are different as you would expect but there is a common thread which binds them all together into one brilliant cohesive collection. The thread of working class honour, pride and determination. And not just that, also this idea that you can be from a working class background and be a writer, of course you can!

    This is a beautifully curated collection and I can now fully stand by my bold tweet that the lovely Kit De Waal can do no wrong in my eyes.

    Not only has this book stirred some lovely cherished memories it has given me a deep sense of working class pride. Pride in my family, my upbringing and the way I'm choosing to raise my own children, in the hope they have lots of cherished memories too.

    I have spent time with some favourite writers and been introduced to some exciting, fresh new voices which I will absolutely go on to explore.

    A stunning collection that I can't recommend highly enough!

    Thank you to Unbound and Becca Harper-Day for allowing me to read an advanced review copy. Thank you also to the lovely folk who crowdfunded the publishing of this book.

  • Dangerfield

    Some really great stuff here !

    The ones are liked best were by Lisa McInerey; Chris McCrudden; Loretta Ramkissoon; Emma Purhouse; Lynne Voyce; Adele Stripe and Paul McVeigh.

    There were two which really did not click with me and didn't seem part of the collection but I'll leave you to discover those which form less than 4% of the total collection.

  • Annie

    Take your time over this book as it conjures up so many images you need to reflect on. Thoroughly recommend it and now have lots more authors to read.

  • Arlene

    This is brilliant, best book of the year so far. A much-needed collection of working class voices telling their own story. Some pieces are gritty, some are poetic, many are very relatable, some tell grim stories that you're grateful aren't yours. An absolute must read.

  • Paul Handley

    This is a brilliant collection of essays, poems and memoirs by working class writers. If you grew up in an era of social clubs, listening to your nan and grandads stories, community, hardship and struggle....then frankly, you’ll find this hard not to love. It’s the best thing I’ve read in ages. 5*

  • Amy

    Everyone should read this, especially if you live in the UK.

    I have been waiting for this collection to come out for months and it was worth the wait. The publishing industry is very middle-class, white, and London-centric. This anthology brings together working-class established authors and up-and-coming authors under one roof as they discuss the many ways one can be working-class.

    Like Glen James Brown's Ironopolis, this book really hit a nerve. It has made me reflect on my own life and figure o

    Everyone should read this, especially if you live in the UK.

    I have been waiting for this collection to come out for months and it was worth the wait. The publishing industry is very middle-class, white, and London-centric. This anthology brings together working-class established authors and up-and-coming authors under one roof as they discuss the many ways one can be working-class.

    Like Glen James Brown's Ironopolis, this book really hit a nerve. It has made me reflect on my own life and figure out how my life maps across the class system. It has made me realise my relationship with what class a fall under is slippy and an awkward thing to pin down. It was interesting to see the relationship between being a writer and what class you belong to and how it is not as straight-forward as people think.

    Every chapter was incredible. This anthology has been curated brilliantly and I loved that it ended with a piece from Dave O'Brien about class in the publishing industry to sign off the anthology. It is moving, it is inspiring, it is educational. I strongly recommend this.

  • Katheryn Thompson

    I couldn't believe my luck when I discovered a copy of this anthology in the library. I stumbled across the poetry section, and thought I'd correct the fact that I haven't read much modern poetry. Unfortunately, the selection was limited - too many Penguin Classics by far - and I was about to give up when I saw this book. Just for the record, although it contains some poetry, I would not describe this anthology as a poetry collection.

    largely consists of essays, memoirs, and musing

    I couldn't believe my luck when I discovered a copy of this anthology in the library. I stumbled across the poetry section, and thought I'd correct the fact that I haven't read much modern poetry. Unfortunately, the selection was limited - too many Penguin Classics by far - and I was about to give up when I saw this book. Just for the record, although it contains some poetry, I would not describe this anthology as a poetry collection.

    largely consists of essays, memoirs, and musings based on real-life experiences. Perhaps that's why a book which I've heard such a buzz about online, and so recently, was available at the library; no-one thought to look under poetry. Oddly enough, this is one instance where the categorising of 'poetry' under 'non-fiction' in my hometown's central library would be accurate.

    As someone who is frequently troubled by thoughts of her own class position, I was extremely excited to read this book.

    is dedicated to "everyone who has yearned to see their life on the page, who has hoped one day to read about working-class lives told by working-class people who lived them." I, for one, found it to live up to this dedication. There were so many experiences in this book which I too felt I have lived through, so many characters I relate to, and so many private thoughts, which I have often felt alone in thinking, voiced by others. This is the power of

    .

    And, of course, I have to look no further than the wonderful cover of this anthology to discover a list of working-class writers whose voices I want to hear more of.

  • Abby85

    Many of these accounts really resonated with me. A wonderful collection.

  • Angela Groves

    A fantastic celebration of life as part of the working class. Debunking the myths and assumptions, with stories full of humour, love and hope.

  • Michael Jarvie

    I have monitored the progress of this book since its inception with some interest. In fact I had hoped to be able to submit some of my own life writing for inclusion, but was prevented from doing so by the gatekeepers at New Writing North. As a working-class writer, being rejected is my default position. Unbound are therefore only one in a long line of publishers who have turned down my work.

    What you should know is that this collection is heavily weighted towards female writers: 23 out of 34 to

    I have monitored the progress of this book since its inception with some interest. In fact I had hoped to be able to submit some of my own life writing for inclusion, but was prevented from doing so by the gatekeepers at New Writing North. As a working-class writer, being rejected is my default position. Unbound are therefore only one in a long line of publishers who have turned down my work.

    What you should know is that this collection is heavily weighted towards female writers: 23 out of 34 to be precise. However, in terms of the quality of the writing on display it’s a considerably more accomplished product than the earlier book “Know Your Place”.

    The variety on offer is particularly satisfying and any self-respecting working-class reader or writer should add it to their collection. What comes across time and again in these splendid essays and memoirs is a vivid sense of place.

    The cynic in me does wonder whether this is simply an example of the middle-class publishing industry self-flagellating itself as a public relations exercise. Nevertheless, I have this book to thank, since in June of this year I decided to self-publish my own collection of working-class life writing, so it would be fair to say that “Common People” has been quite an inspiration and driving force in that respect.

Best Books Online is in no way intended to support illegal activity. Use it at your risk. We uses Search API to find books/manuals but doesn´t host any files. All document files are the property of their respective owners. Please respect the publisher and the author for their copyrighted creations. If you find documents that should not be here please report them


©2019 Best Books Online - All rights reserved.